McCormack Speaks

December 14, 2018
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Chaeman Lee is One of First Two Recipients of Gerontology Department’s Postdoc Fellowship

McCormack Speaks sat down with Dr. Chae Man Lee, a 2017 graduate of the Gerontology PhD program and one of the first of two of the department’s postdoctoral fellows.

 

SA: What were your research focuses as a student?

CL: My research was focused on senior transportation, older driver safety, and healthy aging data report for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. My doctoral dissertation entitled, “Understanding the role of driver, vehicle, environment, and policy factors in crash injury severity among older adults in the United States” investigated how individual characteristics, vehicle elements, environmental elements, and driving licensing policy were associated with level of injury severity, from no injury to fatal injury resulting from car crashes.

SA: What are the main focuses of your postdoc fellowship?

CL: As a post doc, I am still doing older driver safety and healthy aging data report. I am currently a co-investigator on a healthy aging data report for Massachusetts and New Hampshire, funded by Tufts Health Plan Foundation. I am working with Drs. Dugan and Porell to develop healthy aging data reports for Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. We also do research on transportation options available for older people in Massachusetts, safety of older pedestrians for MassDOT, and the Governor’s Council to Address Aging Issues in Massachusetts to improve transportation safety.

SA: Are there any new or expanded projects you are able to pursue now that you otherwise were not able to do previously as a student? If so, what are those?

CL: Besides working on healthy aging data report, I also plan to expand research about older driver safety related with my dissertation. Regarding hot spot analysis of crash location among older drivers in my dissertation, I was doing it only for the Massachusetts area. But, in the future, I will plan to do more on hotspot analysis of crash locations among older drivers in all of the United States.

SA: How have the resources at the McCormack Graduate School and at UMass Boston assisted with your postdoc goals?

CL: In 2007, I made the first journey to enter Gerontology PhD program. As a student, I met wonderful mentors, Dr. Beth Dugan and Dr. Frank Porell. They are always supportive to grow my research ability. We have been working together on healthy aging data reports from 2013. From getting my degree and currently working on the healthy aging project, the McCormack Graduate School and UMass Boston are always providing great environments for research. The faculties and staff from the Department of Gerontology are all good. As an international student, UMass Boston was great to support my visa status to continuously work in the US.

SA: How do you view your work as connecting to the values and mission of the McCormack Graduate School?

CL: I have heavily focused on quantitative research design, data collection, management, and analysis. As a part of the healthy aging research team, I have a good opportunity to look at how my quantitative research experiences are effective in real life of local areas and service providers for older people. I think that our healthy aging products are in accordance with MGS’s mission.

SA: Anything else that you would like to note?

CL: I want to express special appreciation to Dr. Elizabeth Dugan and Dr. Frank Porell. I have spent my entire life in MGS at UMass Boston with them from 2007 to current. Without them, I am not able to finish my degree and to do my postdoc fellowship. They are not only great mentors and professors in school life but also friends and family members in personal life. They always encourage, guide, and advise me to move forward and to produce better works in my research as well as provide the best warmth.

 

 

December 14, 2018
by saadiaahmad001
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Wendy Wang is One of First Two Gerontology Postdocs

 

McCormack Speaks sat down with Dr. Wendy Wang, a recent graduate of the Gerontology PhD program and one of the first of two of the department’s postdoctoral fellows.

SA: What year and program did you graduate from? What were your research focuses as a student?
WW: I graduated in May 2018 from the Gerontology PhD program. My research focused on marital relations, intergenerational relations, and health in later life. For my dissertation, I examined how providing grandchild care affect grandparents’ marital quality.

SA: What are the main focuses of your postdoc fellowship?
WW: I focus on two main areas. The first area is healthy aging and senior transportation. I work with Dr. Elizabeth Dugan and her research team. Our team creates Healthy Aging Data Reports that report indicators of healthy aging for every community in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. We also do research on transportation options available for older people in Massachusetts, safety of older pedestrians for MassDOT, and the Governor’s Council to Address Aging Issues in Massachusetts to improve transportation safety.

The second area is family relations in later life. I am currently working on transforming my dissertation into publishable manuscripts. Other studies I conduct examine older couples’ marital quality, personality similarity, health, and relationships between adult grandchildren and grandparents.

SA: Are there any new or expanded projects you are able to pursue now that you otherwise were not able to do previously as a student? If so, what are those?

WW: Many of the research ideas stem from when I was a student, but as a student, I didn’t have that much time to explore all these topics. Coursework and dissertation were my main focus at that time. Now, I have more time and freedom to contribute more to the research team; I also do research that I always wanted to do but didn’t have time to.

SA: How have the resources at the McCormack Graduate School and at UMass Boston assisted with your postdoc goals?

WW: The faculty here are very supportive and easy to work with. I not only work with my mentor, Dr. Elizabeth Dugan, but also collaborate with other faculty members with similar interests on publications. Whenever I have problems, they are always there to help. In addition, the gerontology department provides funding for attending conferences, and sponsors activities like job-talk practices and conference presentation practices, which helped our professional development. Finally, I am very grateful that I have my own work space, computer, and printer, which allow a very comfortable environment to work efficiently.

SA: How do you view your work as connecting to the values and mission of the McCormack Graduate School?

WW: My work contributes to the understanding of population health and well-being among older adults and their family members. We care about disadvantaged groups and racial minorities, and emphasize equal opportunities. Our research ideas stem from real-life problems that the society is facing or will face. By conducting the research projects, our research team tries to provide suggestions to local government and service providers to reduce social isolation, improve health and well-being, and preserve older adults’ freedom and dignity. I believe that the work I’m doing aligns with MGS’s mission to understand and remedy important social, political, economic, and environmental issues, and to promote social justice and equity.

SA: What do you hope to do after you complete your postdoc fellowship?

WW: After completing my postdoc fellowship, I hope I will become a more competitive candidate to find a faculty position in a university, and continue my research.

SA: Anything else that you would like to note?

WW: I would like to thank my mentor Dr. Elizabeth Dugan and the McCormack Graduate School for providing me this postdoc opportunity. By doing this postdoc, I am able to work with the professors I am familiar with and develop more research experiences. This also gives me a transitional time to be more prepared for my future work.

November 19, 2018
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Bob Turner, McCormack Research Fellow, Shares His Perspectives as One of Key Debate Organizers

 

Over the last three years, the McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies has returned to its role as a sponsor of political debates. Since this past summer, McCormack has collaborated with The Boston Globe and WBUR to provide a platform for political candidates running for office to have discussions with each other and the public. The team organizing these debates is led by Dean Cash, Research Fellow Bob Turner and Rashelle Brown, McCormack’s events planner. McCormack Speaks sat down with Bob Turner to learn more about the behind-the-scenes work.

 

SA: What kind of reactions have you received regarding these debates from the public, candidates, UMass Boston, and the city of Boston?

BT: It is very satisfying, in particular, that all of the candidates I talked with spoke positively about the professional way the debates were run. All said they were the most substantive of their campaigns. Our last debate, between the candidates for governor on November 1, was the last of that campaign but still produced lively dialogue and fresh information. It had a large audience, as it was telecast live by Channel 5. There has been much comment from within UMass Boston about the public service that the debates gave, and the positive message this sent about our school as a substantive and productive member of the community.

SA: What has been surprising about sponsoring these debates?

BT: The partnership among MGS, The Boston Globe, and WBUR has developed over three years into a very strong and mutually supportive group. We look forward to more years of this collaboration. Also, all of the 10 debates we co-sponsored were broadcast live. The degree of technical skill and experience needed to bring this off – on radio and television – was really impressive. Equally impressive, always, is the so-calm and so-effective preparation of our own events planner, Rashelle Brown.

SA: What have been the challenges and the rewards of sponsoring these debates?

BT: A major reward: the MGS participation. In several of the debates, questions from McCormack students or faculty that had been prepared beforehand were posed to the candidates, either by the MGS questioner in person, or by a panelist. Helping prepare the questions, and then witnessing their inclusion in the debates, was very gratifying. It was terrific positive publicity for the school. A challenge will be to make sure this kind of questioning by MGS people will be included in all future debates.

SA: How do you see sponsorship of these debates as connecting to the values and mission of the McCormack Graduate School?

BT: The Supreme Court seems to think corporations are citizens that can make political contributions. This is questionable. Not questionable is the fact that the John W. McCormack Graduate School of Policy and Global Studies, while prohibited from making cash contributions to candidates, is without question a citizen of our city, state, and nation. Anything we can do to further the health of our democracy is at the core of our very being.

SA: Are there plans for future debates? How do you envision McCormack continuing and expanding these forums?

BT: We look forward to more action next year, and are talking with our partners about what that might look like. One thought: we just had the mid-term elections, but the New Hampshire presidential primary is only 14 or 15 months away, and swarms of presidential candidates usually start arriving in these parts with the first snowflakes.

November 7, 2018
by saadiaahmad001
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What’s Cooking at the Center for Social Policy

by Susan Crandall

As the leaves tumble faster and the weather grows ever cooler, the mounting darkness seems to exacerbate the onslaught of tragedies that befall us. I’ve often wondered how people go on in times of upheaval, conducting their daily business as the world is shattering. But I am frequently reminded that tragedies like gun violence and homelessness have been part of the fabric of everyday life for many communities like our neighbors in Dorchester and Roxbury. If they can on, I can go on: deriving purpose through the Center for Social Policy’s dedication to shine a light on the root causes of economic hardship through our community-engaged research.

Aside from voting, to find comfort elsewhere, I cook soups and stews. With my multi-function Instant Pot, I saute, mix ingredients, simmer, walk away and return to a ready-to-serve meal – usually in less than an hour. It’s quick and easy! In contrast, our projects at the Center for Social Policy are more like cooking in an old-fashioned kitchen. We juggle multiple projects at a time, moving the simmering pots and pans from the back to front burners, sneaking a taste here and there, all while keeping some ideas warm in the oven. Here’s a sample of what’s cooking at CSP on cliff effects:

Cliff Effects

Our cliff effects research agenda, guided by CSP Senior Fellow and Professor of Economics Randy Albelda, tackles the dilemma of losing public benefits in response to working more. Now ready to serve is our new chart pack which analyzes more family types and benefit packages and spotlights the impact of housing assistance and universal childcare.

Next up, we are washing, slicing, and dicing the data to prepare our next set of cliff simulations based on our recent report on benefit packages authored by Research Associate Caitlin Carey. We are also analyzing the impact of the new minimum wage law on cliff effects, led by Professor of Economics Michael Carr in partnership with Mass Budget and Policy Center.

We provide technical assistance on public benefits and cliff effects for UTEC in Lowell and for the City of Boston Office of Financial Empowerment. These organizations are grantees in Learn to Earn, Governor Baker’s initiative to mitigate cliff effects for job seekers enrolled in workforce development programs to help them advance in their careers. Our cliff effect research also informs the work of On Solid Ground, a family-engaged statewide coalition with over 45 members that advocates for housing stability and economic mobility for vulnerable families.

Early Education and Care

Cliff effects are especially detrimental for very low-paid workers, such as early childhood educators. Thus the Center for Social Policy, along with the Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy and the Institute for Early Education Leadership and Innovation, launched a study on Massachusetts’ early care and education workforce. Our interdisciplinary research team is examining compensation and benefits, public benefits and cliff effects, debt load, and professional development in order to provide in-depth data to inform future policymaking for the early care workforce.

Workforce Development and Employment

Our CSP team, spearheaded by Senior Research Associate Brandynn Holgate, is partnering with the City of Boston Office of Workforce Development to map career pathways in the creative economy for non-traditional adult learners. This project is in collaboration with the UMass Donahue Institute, with whom we are also embarking on a study with the City of Cambridge Redevelopment Authority to expand job training and employment to more underserved Cambridge residents.

Meanwhile, Research Director Francoise Carre, with co-investigators Chris Benner of UC Santa Cruz and Chris Tilly of UCLA, is examining the workplace impacts of changing retail technologies, like automation. And through her work with Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing and Organizing (WIEGO), Dr. Carre lends statistical expertise on job classification for organizations such as the International Labor Organization to improve policies for informal work, such as domestic workers.

Student Homelessness

Workers and their families need stable housing to thrive. This is why the Center for Social Policy is proud to be selected as the evaluation partner for a cross-sector partnership to address the crisis of 4000 homeless students who attend Boston Public Schools. The collaborative is working together on a pilot program in seven schools to coordinate across housing, education, and health sectors to reduce homelessness and improve educational outcomes. Partners include the Chair of the Boston City Council’s Homelessness and Education Committee, Boston’s Chiefs of Housing and Education, Higher Ground, DSNI, Project Hope, New Lease for Homeless Families, Boston Public Schools, and the Boston Housing Authority.

In the Community

When we are not cooking up a storm in the kitchen, we are out and about in the community. Recently, I served on a panel of experts to speak to business leaders on the Modern Workforce, highlighting the need for tuition assistance and debt counseling to attract and retain today’s financially-burdened millennial workforce. I was also an invited speaker on cliff effects and workforce policy at the Department of Labor Employment and Training and Administration Region I Administrators meeting hosted by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston.

November 7, 2018
by saadiaahmad001
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Topol Grant Research Team Publishes First Article on Scaling Up Grassroots Nonviolent Movements

The Topol Peace Data Initiative seeks to explore the ways in which grassroots peace initiatives and nonviolent movements for social change can be scaled up and applied at an international scale. Members of the research team recently published its first article with Sage Journals, entitled: “Scaling Social Movements Through Social Media: The Case of Black Lives Matter.”

According to the abstract, the article explores the potential role of social media in helping movements expand and strengthen their impact, utilizing a case study of the Black Lives Matter movement to present the possibilities of social media to build connections, mobilize participants and resources, build coalitions, and amplify alternative narratives.

The article was co-authored by Marcia Mundt, a public policy doctoral student, along with Dr. Karen Ross, assistant professor of conflict resolution, and Charla Burnett, a global governance and human security doctoral student.

The publication is available as an open access article here.

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